ReMARKable Rider Day: Meet Leah Griffith

ReMARKable Rider Day! Meet Leah Griffith, an author of an early chapter of the Yamhill County Transit story.
View from the Past by Cynthia Thompson, Yamhill County Transit Manager

A life of service is only part of the story for Leah Griffith. She grew up in Seaside, Oregon and her family has lived in the north coast area since 1910. She went to college to become a librarian and worked in Ohio, Washington County, and Multnomah County before settling in Newberg for thirty years.

Leah’s parents owned a small business and liked to support other small businesses. Her parents were always involved in their community. Being a public servant runs in her blood. Leah’s grandfather was police chief in Seaside in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Her father was a volunteer firefighter, city councilor and ran for County Commissioner and her mother served on several civic committees. Her nephew continues the service as chair of the Seaside School Board.

Serving my community is my heritage and my hobby and something I feel is very valuable.

Leah went to Seaside High School and graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon and received her master’s in library science degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

When Leah was hired as the library director at the Newberg Public Library in 1992 she expected to spend her work time operating the library. But the City of Newberg appointed her to represent them on the board of the Chehalem Valley Senior Citizens Council and that started her transit experience. CVSCC operated the Dial A Ride and fixed route service in Newberg and the commuter service from McMinnville to Tigard. I doubt she expected her experience managing a book mobile in Ohio and dealing with vehicles, drivers, and mechanics would come in handy for her future transit role.

The transit service operated by Chehalem Valley Senior Citizens Council transitioned to Chehalem Valley Transit (CVT). They received support from the Chehalem Park & Recreation District for office space and bus parking. They supported the Senior Center for a number of years until CPRD took over the management of the Center. CVT moved to another CPRD facility and again were very appreciative of the support of the Superintendent Don Clements and the CPRD Board.

Leah was asked to manage CVT in 2008 while still in her role as Newberg Library Director. She accepted and managed the challenges of balancing both roles until 2010 when a transit director was hired and she continued acting as the managing board member while the experienced transit director, Doug Pilant, brought many improvements and increased service, including the transition to sole provider of Yamhill County public transit. When Yamhill County began contracting with First Transit as the sole service provider for Yamhill County Transit services and Doug had moved to the coast to manage Tillamook County Transit six months before, CVT ceased operations. As an agency that started out to serve seniors and transitioned to transit out of need, it was an appropriate time to close the organization.

Leah’s commitment, strength and hard work helped to create the ongoing story of Yamhill County Transit. When I asked Leah what she thinks is the value of public transit and if there was one thing she could change, she said; “Transit is so important for people to continue to be independent and get around. The one thing I would change about YCT is for bus stops to be marked so people know it exists and can see where to catch the bus.”

“When I lived in Portland, I used to ride public transit to get around and in retirement my f<>avorite form of public transportation is riding AMTRAK on vacations. I traveled by train to Glacier National Park and absolutely loved it and recently completed trips to Chicago on AMTRAK’s Empire Builder, Santa Barbara on the Coast Starlight and to Vancouver, Canada via AMTRAK Cascades.

I asked Leah what inspires her and is there something about you that most people don’t know. Leah said,” I am inspired by making improvements and serving my community and making things better. People may not know I am also a huge fan of Gene Kelly and Hollywood musicals.”

In closing, Leah’s friends would say she is someone you can depend on and someone who cares and always steps up to help.

I think this description says a lot about the kind of person Leah is and why her contribution to her community and to Yamhill County Transit as initiator, advocate, and problem solver deserves to be recognized and honored.



Routes 44 & 44X -
New bus stop locations went into effect Monday, April 15. Click for details ►

Route 5 & 7 - Newberg and Saturday Routes 22 and 44 are suspended until further notice
To schedule weekend Dial-a-Ride service, please call (503) 474-4900 (McMinnville) or (503) 538-7433 (Newberg).

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